There was room for me at Al-Anon's table

Today, I spent the day reminiscing about my very first Al‑Anon home group. I came to them totally battered inside and out. For three months, I sat alone away from the table not speaking a word, week after week. I was the only minority there. I lived in a city where race relations were deplorable, the absolute worst in this country. I didn’t speak because I feared I would not be accepted and, worse yet, they would not be interested in my pain. So I became a human sponge, soaking up everything I was hearing, and running out after the meeting.

Then one night, the speaker spoke on my favorite pamphlet, So You Love an Alcoholic (P-14). Repeatedly, throughout her talk, she said it was okay to love an alcoholic. I broke down in tears because that was the root of my pain. I loved an alcoholic, felt shame about it, and was powerless over it. To my surprise, the entire group ran over to me, gave me hugs, pulled out additional literature for me to study, and insisted that next week I was to sit at the table. And I did.

The following week, I felt stronger. I felt accepted and hopeful that I would become a “part of” instead of “apart from.” Little by little, I began to share what was going on with me; they began to explain to me that Al‑Anon had Steps, Traditions, and Concepts and it would be important for me to learn all of them and practice them. I was an eager student ready and willing to learn.

After several months in the program, the group made an announcement to me. They had unanimously decided it was time for me to jump into service and chair the meetings for the month. I didn’t know what to say. I felt so many things all at once. I was nervous, honored, and prideful—because God knew I loved being in control.

I shared with them that I was willing but feared I would be bossy and controlling. I was reassured that I would do just fine, and to read Al‑Anon’s Twelve Traditions Illustrated (P-60) before coming the following week. Sure enough, Tradition Two relieved my worries and anxieties and I took the suggestions given in the pamphlet.

At the close of chairing my first meeting, a member asked, “Do you feel it?” Curious, I asked, “Feel what?” “The circle of love,” she said, “Al‑Anon has a circle of love, that’s why we insisted that you sit at the table.” Yes, I had become very aware of it during the meeting.

At my last meeting that month, I chose the Al‑Anon logo for the meeting’s topic. I had spent the entire month meditating on Al‑Anon’s circle of love. I was grateful that I was given the opportunity to be of service and start my beginnings in practicing the three sides of the triangle. However, I was captivated by the inside circle of the logo. I knew and wanted so desperately for that circle of love to come inside of my heart—to give up the hatred inside of me.

Now 24 years later, I find myself in love with another alcoholic. This certainly is a new and different journey, but I have the great big circle of love to carry me through it.

By Gladys H., New York
The Forum, May 2012

© Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 2012. All Rights Reserved.